Insights
 

So far, I’ve written Science Fiction and Spirituality and you could be forgiven for thinking that these genres are not very compatible, yet they both deliver tomorrows.


Every tomorrow that I imagine will hold people who are a lot like us. They will also suffer and question why. But they decide to conquer their circumstances by changing it.

TO BE BELIEVABLE, TOMORROW MUST ALSO HOLD REAL PEOPLE AND PLACES.

Let’s take a peek at those big Science Fiction changes first. The SF you are probably familiar with, will invariably happen in Hollywood and to stars with swaggers or light sabres and american english accents. In real life however, tomorrow is going to happen to everyone everywhere and it doesn’t come in a dim and distant future. Tomorrow means tomorrow.


That’s why I chose Grace Reid as our main Catalysis protagonist. She can’t fly airplanes and has no idea what a black hole is, unless it’s a hazard of undetermined depth waiting for her up an unlit side street. Grace is a troubled teenager who lived in Ireland before being institutionalised in Britain as the Global Economy falters, which is pretty much today. ‘They’ tell her she is mentally challenged, but that doesn’t stop her from joining the rest of us in having her own unique vision of tomorrow and she wants that future badly.


Grace is very well equipped to visualise tomorrow because she can see much further than you and I. In her quest, she is joined by people who speak Amharic, Arabic, Russian, Hindi, French, Chinese, Spanish, Ukrainian, Yiddish, Japanese, Somali and English amongst many other languages.  She is way too immature to resemble any typical SF female stereotypes, but she does have a determination that some would perceive as stubbornness and possibly even borderline insanity.


The landscapes are as exotic as the languages spoken by the characters, so we sweep across the globe before venturing further afield, but even then, we need to keep everything very real. Frighteningly real because space is no place for the faint hearted, even those who carry theirs on the other side of their bodies.


By a strange coincidence, it seems that artificial intelligences have much in common with challenged people, but there has to be a logical reason for that and of course, there is.


Grace’s version of the tomorrow that she wants all of us to wake up to is truly vast, but that’s still nowhere near as vast as the one that actually happens. 


Welcome to real, thinking people’s Science Fiction where nothing happens by magic, not even Destiny Itself.

The quest for a better tomorrow is something that everyone would like to identify with. So, my two chosen genres are simply gauges of how much we are prepared to change. Spirituality is a modest beginning, in which we examine possible changes to ourselves. In my brand of Science Fiction however, all possibilities exist and this kind of change is sure to affect everyone.

This is me on the other side of the Emerald Isle to Lugh’s altar. I am standing on the North Bull Island in Dublin. That storm coming up behind me is a reminder to myself that if change is not on the horizon, then it’s probably close enough to demand a decision. That decision can sometimes be as flawed as we are, but that’s still better than letting Destiny, or someone else decide for us.

By the way, I do hear you and I probably should apologise for using such a poor picture here. I confess that it doesn’t look as real as the one on top of the page, but I do have a good reason for using it and if you bear with me for just a moment longer, all will be revealed.


Incidentally, you’ll know when you have a definitively bad picture when it looks better each time you shrink it. But let’s hold that thought while you finish the next three small paragraphs.


Science is only now proposing what the older orders of Celts wove into their poetry, music, song and dance more than two thousand years ago.


They knew that what we see and touch is not always the solid stuff that our physical 3D conditioning would have us believe.


This Celt can still see reality as a thin veneer through which we can sometimes pass, or even fall, into a much bigger reality. Celtic tradition is full of such ‘mystical’ accounts, but that doesn’t make them mythical. It makes them metaphysical, which is something beyond physics but also something that exists, somewhere or sometime.


So, back to my poor picture, which was supposed to show a piece of the Atlantic Ocean, off the Irish west coast at Clare in imminent sunset and it does ... if you can meet me halfway.


The actual scene, more than my poor copy of it, was tempting me to visualise a Deity or some ‘Metaphysical Being’, ‘Who’ heard a faint but possibly desperate plea for Its Superior Intervention. ‘It’ then parted the clouds on one of His/Her/Its worlds to find the source of that feeble voice.


What I saw here was either a slowly roving shaft of sunlight that such a Being might use to search the relative darkness, or simply the reflected brilliance of that Being as It drew close enough to listen better.


That made me look deeper, but not with my squinted physical eyes. I had to peer through that soft thin membrane that holds everything inside it against the vastness of infinity beyond and ask, what could possibly lie out there on a cold ocean that might interest such a Luminous Being?


The answer to that arrived with a softness we’d associate with summer drizzle. It was a revelation as subtle as it was humbling. To warrant such an obvious other worldly intrusion, there would have to be something critical to both worlds or both realities going on. When you think about it, the only thing that could belong in both places would be ‘Hope’.


Everyone knows what hope is and each of us employs it, some more than others. But if we had a really big hope and we needed to send it aloft to the same possibly altruistic ‘Being’, who seems to occasionally scan the physical worlds for such petitions before withdrawing to consider them, we might need to put it in a special package like a prayer. That would have to ensure that it gets a hearing, right?


Hope might be real, but it’s also a very abstract ‘thing’. As fully paid up and life long members of humanity, we are naturally empowered to fulfil the smaller hopes of each other, if we are so inclined. The really big stuff would have to be processed by that much bigger ‘Entity’ to Whom it must be specifically addressed. That would be the only way that our occasionally unrealistic hopes could become supercharged with the seed of their own self-fulfilment, which would jump them to the front of the queue where they would be sure to be heard above and before others.


Then, like you, I had to go about the more practical business of living for a while.


Flights of fancy like that one are like autumn leaves in many ways. I say that because despite reaching occasionally dizzy heights when they are blown off their branches, they are soon brought down to Earth to pile up in layers and to be forgotten under daily layers of reality.


Then, at some later stage, we’ll stumble on their sinewy but delicately transparent skeletons while digging into the bottom of the pile, usually when we’re looking for something one of the kids has lost. So long after the fact, we’ll usually have a very limited time to fully recall them because too soon there will be nothing of them at all. That is, unless we can somehow preserve them possibly between the pages of a book, as they sometimes do.


So I decided to do just that. That fleeting but powerful aspect of hope that was triggered by my bad picture might have taken the scenic route, but it eventually followed me home from the coast. It miraculously stayed on top of my pile of disintegrating leaves, like it just refused to be forgotten. So I had to write about it and record it for posterity.


In my first book :- 'Book of Plebs’, I included a small aside in Chapter 15 and called it - ‘Hope Waits’ - It takes the form of a  diversionary short story, a small and hopefully welcome break from the mental application of searching for some physical evidence of a metaphysical Deity.


In that chapter, a possibly pre - Celtic tribe in ancient Ireland are being hard pressed on two borders by their enemies. It seems they had plenty of hope at one time, but they watched it sail away from the place I captured in my picture. They called that rocky shore Slandu. When translated to English, it means (The) ‘Dark Farewell’, and for good reason.

 

The place where Hope pushed out from the sandy beach is below the rocks and to the far left of the frame. Just around that last point there’s a small sheltered bay. They called the beach there Derrateer, or ‘The last (End) of land.’ Anyway, on a quiet evening very much like the one shown in my picture, Hope slipped quietly and unceremoniously into the darkening expanse of the great ocean beyond the last land.


I like to think it may have been illuminated for a few minutes by that shaft of evening sunlight, just as the sails caught the off-shore breeze to nudge it on its way. In my short story, Hope wasn’t seen again in the three years that passed since they waved it off.

 

You might be able to see the ancient ring fort on the shore at the bottom right, but what you can't see is Sliolar or ‘Eagle Mountain', which is behind my vantage point as I took the photo. Sliolar rises from the southern end of the peninsula and at its summit is an altar dedicated to Lugh, a very August Deity of the time.


Lugh’s shrine was built inside a stone cairn that takes the form of a small artificial cave. From the flat ledge outside that sanctuary, there’s a commanding view of a sizeable expanse of ocean. That would probably explain why the Ancients built it there, so Lugh could survey at least a small part of 'His' vast domain.

 

The Tuahdae tribe built the cave, just as they built a similar but larger cairn on top of Crohanard on the mainland further to the east. That lofty place is used as the Chieftains’ Tomb and it overlooks the narrow channel towards Sliolar, the gods’ altar, and the endless sea beyond.


While attempting to climb up there in the dark, the warrior woman Grufiacra of Naman was injured and the umpire, or Mark, declared her unable to continue her race, though she was far from happy about that. Being a Naman warrior can sometimes make for a very stubborn as well as capable breed of woman.

 

Crimor, ‘Big Heart’, has seen this place only twice in reality, but countless times in his dreams as he waits for Hope to return and sometimes ventures out after it in his dreams, which seems to keep it alive somewhere.


With Grufiacra injured, he finds himself joint favourite to win the same endurance race that will end at Lugh’s altar. The winner can expect to collect the Fanor, or gold ring. The gold can be kept as a trophy, used as a dowry, or exchanged for the black bull calf. 

 

Further detail is becoming irrelevant at this time, because 'Book of Plebs' is not about the Celts, their Gods, nor Crimor. It is also not about endurance racing nor stubborn women, but it has a lot to do with hope. I thought you might like to see how a rather poor picture, taken with a broken camera can become something special when viewed not through the lens but with fearless imagination. That’s how I hope you will judge this work.

 

Hope Waits,’ is only one of a number of minor diversions on a much greater journey that any one of us could be compelled to take, without a moment’s notice.


Book of Plebs - is an extraordinary journey by a very ordinary person, with a bad camera.

Then we have the smaller, purely personal changes which will paradoxically, take a little longer to explain.


In every book, I put a small diversionary chapter which brings more overall clarity.


I brought this little picture to help me explain, because even our metaphysical tomorrows must be kept very real.

TO BE BELIEVABLE, TOMORROW MUST ALSO HOLD REAL PEOPLE AND PLACES.